Whirlwind’s Ordering Process
May 24, 2011
Ordering RoughRiders® and the Wheelchair Provision Process
The provision process should ideally begin with pre-identification of intended recipients. From a pool of people who need wheelchairs in the locale where the wheelchairs are to be delivered, those who are not good candidates for the chairs that are to be delivered are screened out. Those remaining in the pool are then assessed to determine which of the available wheelchair types is most appropriate for each person. The intended recipients are then measured to determine the proper seat width, seat depth, and back height. Whirlwind provides assessment forms which are helpful for this step in the process. The various measurements are then collected into an order for the manufacturer. In cases where it is not possible to get user measurements, experts who are knowledgeable about the body sizes of the local disabled population can estimate the proportions of sizes necessary to serve the local population. Errors in measurement or poor estimations will result in sizes of wheelchairs that do not match the intended or available recipients. This can make for difficult decisions at the time when the wheelchairs are actually distributed.
Once the donor/purchaser makes funds available to Whirlwind, either by check or wire transfer, Whirlwind will place the order with the manufacturer who will enter the order into the earliest slot in the production schedule. Depending on the manufacturer, it could take one to six weeks to complete the order. Shipping can require from 3 to 8 weeks for the chairs to arrive at their destination, depending on distance from the factory. Whirlwind will work closely with the donor/purchaser throughout this period, to keep the donor/purchaser informed of progress and to coordinate distribution scheduling with donor/purchasers who may want to travel to the distribution site to participate in providing the wheelchairs. During production, the various customs documents will be prepared and, if possible, processed in advance by the destination country so that delays, unexpected fees, and problems can be minimized. It is best to have a local agent familiar with importation of duty-free humanitarian goods involved in the process.
When the container of chairs arrives in the destination port, it will need to be cleared through customs and transported to the first distribution point. Often the shipment will be separated into smaller shipments which will be sent to different local distribution points. Once the wheelchairs have arrived at their local distribution points, they can be fit and adjusted to the users’ individual requirements. It is important that wheelchair providers at each point are trained in wheelchair provision skills and specific adjustments available on each wheelchair model.